Tiny Core Linux's goal is the creation of a nomadic ultra small graphical desktop operating system capable of booting from cdrom, pendrive, or frugally from a hard drive. The desktop boots extremely fast and is able to support additional applications and hardware of the users choice. While Tiny Core always resides in ram, additional applications extensions can either reside in ram, mounted from a persistent storage device, or installed into a persistent storage device.
TinyCore becomes simply an example of what the Core Project can produce, an 12MB FLTK/FLWM desktop.
It is not a complete desktop nor is all hardware completely supported. It represents only the core needed to boot into a very minimal X desktop typically with wired internet access.
The user has complete control over which applications and/or additional hardware to have supported, be it for a desktop, a netbook, an appliance, or server, selectable by the user by installing additional applications from online repositories, or easily compiling most anything you desire using tools provided.